Perceived Stress and Intent to Die in Young Soldiers Who Attempt Suicide

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Background: Intent to die is an important component of suicide risk assessment. The authors compared the predictive effect of two forms of stress – military and perceived – in intent to die by suicide among young adult Israeli soldiers with a history of suicide attempts. Depression, suicide ideation, and habituation/acquired capacity for suicidality served as covariates. Methods: Participants were 60 young adult soldiers in the Israeli Defense Force (ISF; aged 18–21 years), who made a suicide attempt during their military service. Study variables were assessed using self-report measures. Results: Intent to die by suicide correlated with suicide ideation, habituation/acquired capacity, depressive symptoms, and perceived stress. In a multiple regression analysis, perceived stress predicted intent to die (b = .44, p = .002) over and above the prediction by suicide ideation (b = .42, p = .013) and acquired capacity/habituation (b = .28, p = .023). Limitations: The cross-sectional design restricts causal inference. In addition, an exclusive reliance on self-report measures might have inflated shared method variance. Conclusions: Perceived stress captures a unique dimension of intent to die by suicide among young suicide attempters.

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